Does anyone else get the old Sherwin Williams jingle stuck in their head when they see Kerwynn Williams’s name? No? Just me?

Anyway, welcome to the 2017 Handcuff Report. For those who followed this post last season, welcome back. For those who are new, where were you last year? Too good for us? I have researched other available handcuff reports and tell give you my completely unbiased opinion that none of them are half as good as this one. Shame on you, and welcome.

So, first things first: what exactly is a handcuff? For the fantasy football n00bs out there, or perhaps for those who have taken the last few years off, a handcuff is a backup who will likely take over as the starter in the event of an injury, extreme ineffectiveness, off-the-field trouble, or coach’s decision. There are probably other reasons that I am forgetting here, but those are the most common one.

Most NFL teams now run a running back by committee of some sort. While not every team is as unpredictably maddening as the Patriots, most teams share the load in an effort to keep guys fresh and give defenses different looks. With fantasy leagues more competitive than ever, thanks to sites like Razzball offering great advice, it is important to recognize trends and identify value quickly. If you drafted a stud running back early, you might want to grab his handcuff in case of injury. Or if you went zero RB or went really light on RB early, you might want to squat on a couple handcuffs or, especially in PPR leagues, grab a change-of-pace/pass catching back. With the influx of young running backs and each team having two or three options this season, I tended to do the latter in drafts this year. For every Melvin Gordon, I have like two Shane Vereens or Theo Riddicks this year. Speaking of young running backs:

When you look at the waiver wire adds, the top three in most leagues are probably going to be some combination of Tarik Cohen, Kerwynn Williams, and Javorius Allen. The former went bonkers on Sunday and could be especially valuable as both a handcuff and a weapon in PPR formats, while the latter two are intriguing as the result of injuries. For a longer breakdown of waiver wire adds, check out Kerry’s post from yesterday.

Despite only being one week into the football season, we already have some handcuffs making waves. So, let’s get to the charts and the notes…

Mike Maher’s Week Two Handcuff Report

American Football Conference
AFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Patriots Mike Gillislee Rex Burkhead James White Dion Lewis
Jets Matt Forte Bilal Powell Bilal Powell Elijah McGuire
Dolphins Jay Ajayi Damien Williams Damien Williams Kenyan Drake
Bills LeSean McCoy Mike Tolbert LeSean McCoy Joe Banyard
AFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Bengals Jeremy Hill Joe Mixon Giovani Bernard Cedric Peerman
Ravens Terrance West Javorius Allen Terrance West Kenneth Dixon
Steelers Le’Veon Bell James Conner Le’Veon Bell Terrell Watson
Browns Isaiah Crowell Duke Johnson Duke Johnson Matt Dayes
AFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Texans Lamar Miller Alfred Blue+ Lamar Miller D’Onta Foreman
Jaguars Leonard Fournette Chris Ivory Leonard Fournette T.J. Yeldon
Colts Frank Gore Robert Turbin Marlon Mack Marlon Mack
Titans DeMarco Murray Derrick Henry DeMarco Murray David Fluellen
AFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Chiefs Kareem Hunt Charcandrick West Kareem Hunt C.J. Spiller
Broncos C.J. Anderson Jamaal Charles Devontae Booker De’Angelo Henderson
Raiders Marshawn Lynch Jalen Richard DeAndre Washington DeAndre Washington
Chargers Melvin Gordon Branden Oliver Melvin Gordon Austin Ekeler


  • Danny Woodhead going down was one of the notable injuries of the weekend, and the surprising stat line after the game was Javorius Allen receiving 21 carries. While Terrance West got his, as well, and was fairly productive with his 19 carries, the 21 for Allen raised some eyebrows and is making him a popular waiver wire target with Woodhead expected to miss some time. Since this is probably more of a short term handcuff opportunity for Allen, and he is still going to more than likely be second fiddle to West, I’m not using my waiver priority on him unless I am desperate.
  • In the AFC East, we have two teams with bellcow running backs and two teams that will probably frustrate all year. In New England, they are down to three receivers and something like 16 running backs. If history holds true, the value of those running backs is going to change every single week and possibly every single half or quarter. In New Jersey, the Jets insist on running Matt Forte out there even though Bilal Powell has looked like the better back for two years now. Maybe that is just two years of Powell stock speaking, but come on already.
  • Marshawn Lynch returned and looked like Marshawn Lynch.
  • I was high on Kareem Hunt heading into the NFL Draft and wanted my Eagles to grab him. But, after calling this NFL Draft a historic one for running backs, GM Howie Roseman walked away with a fifth round mini-Sproles who almost didn’t make the team and might not dress this season. Hunt, on the other hand, looked phenomenal Week 1. I grabbed a bunch of Spencer Ware stock later in drafts as kind of a counter move to the Hunt hype, hoping that Ware would keep the job or at least maintain his share of touches. Obviously, I got burned, and now Hunt looks to be a stud. And without much competition in the backfield anymore — aside from Andy Reid throwing Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill back there from time to time — Hunt might be a workhorse this year.
  • Frank Gore might play until he dies on the field, but Marlon Mack, a guy I have a ton of stock of in dynasty leagues, looked pretty impressive in his debut. If you have the roster space and Mack is still available, he isn’t a bad back to sit on in leagues.


National Football Conference
NFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Giants Paul Perkins Orleans Darkwa Shane Vereen Wayne Gallman
Eagles LeGarrette Blount Wendell Smallwood Darren Sproles Corey Clement
Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Alfred Morris Ezekiel Elliott Darren McFadden
Washington Robert Kelley Samaje Perine Chris Thompson Mack Brown
NFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Vikings Dalvin Cook Latavius Murray Dalvin Cook Jerick McKinnon
Packers Ty Montgomery Jamaal Williams Ty Montgomery Aaron Jones
Lions Ameer Abdullah Dwayne Washington Theo Riddick Zach Zenner
Bears Jordan Howard Tarik Cohen Howard/Cohen Benny Cunningham+
NFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
Buccaneers Jacquizz Rodgers Charlies Sims Jacquizz Rodgers
Saints Mark Ingram Adrian Peterson Alvin Kamara Alvin Kamara
Panthers Christian McCaffrey Jonathan Stewart Christian McCaffrey Fozzy Whittaker
Falcons Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Terron Ward
NFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Reserve
49ers Carlos Hyde Matt Breida Carlos Hyde Raheem Mostert
Seahawks Thomas Rawls+ Eddie Lacy C.J. Prosise Chris Carson
Cardinals Kerwynn Williams Andre Ellington Kerwynn Williams Chris Johnson
Rams Todd Gurley Malcolm Brown Todd Gurley Justin Davis


  • Tarik Cohen really stole the show on Sunday, with
  • With the devastating David Johnson news, Kerwynn Williams is the next man up. While he won’t be David Johnson, he should get his fair share of touches and his chance to shine. If he can, he could be a serviceable running back for your rotation. If you are a Johnson owner, you almost have to take the chance on him if you can. And if you aren’t, it can’t hurt to grab him and see what he can do. The Cardinals resigned Chris Johnson yesterday, but that feels like more depth than anything else. If they really liked Johnson and thought he had a lot left in the tank, he would have already been on the roster.
  • Chris Carson looked pretty good in limited chances on Sunday, but with Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise already there, Thomas Rawls coming back for Week 2, and a very questionable offensive line blocking for him, ehhhhhhhhh.
  • One of the more interesting teams to watch running backs for, for me at least, was the Panthers. Jonathan Stewart went late in many fantasy drafts and undrafted in some others, as fantasy owners prepare for the arrival of Christian McCaffrey. I like McCaffrey as much as the next guy, but I didn’t expect Stewart to just disappear from the offense, so I grabbed some Stewart stock late. After one week, I like that pick. While I expect McCaffrey to lead the way and be the more valuable running back, especially in PPR, I think Stewart is going to get his, too.
  • Things look pretty awkward in New Orleans, eh? Who would have thought that adding a veteran superstar (former superstar?) running back who isn’t a pass catcher to a pass-happy offense with a crowded backfield would be a bad idea? It isn’t as easy to trade in-season in the NFL as it is in other sports, but would anyone be surprised if Peterson ended up being dealt soon? It’s only one week, and it was against a very good defense, so maybe things are getting blown out of proportion, but it looks not so good in New Orleans.


If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!

  1. Finally Football says:

    Hello !! I’m in a 12 team 1 pt PPR super flex were we have the option to start 2 QB if we want and 1 RB . We get 4 pts a passing TD , 6 pts. a rec TD and 8 points for a Rush TD. I was offered Brady and T West for my Cousins and M Gillislee. MG. is probably my best RB id be trading. My others are J stewart, Duke J, P Perkins, CJ Prosie, James White and S Perine. My other starting QB is Rodgers BTW. Should I pull the trigger being so thin at RB ? he might sub B Powell instead of TWest… still do it?? Thx for the help man !!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:

      @Finally Football:

      Yeah, I definitely pull the trigger for the chance to start Rodgers and Brady in the same lineup. Gillislee might be your best RB, but that NE backfield is probably not going to be consistent. White might actually wind up outproducing him in PPR formats.

  2. Brent

    The Fantasy Dick says:

    Do you think an offer of Gore/Wentz for Dalton/Doug Martin would even be considered by the other owner in a 12 tm standard league? His starting QB is Mariota. I lost DJ, so looking for RB depth behind Dalvin Cook and Kerwin Williams (I also own Mack with Gore).



    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:

      @The Fantasy Dick:

      Hey Dick,

      Probably not, but you never know other peoples’ preferences. I don’t think it is so lopsided that it would be offensive to ask, especially with the suspension and a bad week for Dalton.

  3. Allan says:

    So I had Johnson, Cook, Ingram, Perkins, and Lacy in a full point PPR. I put Johnson on IR and dropped Lacy to pick up Williams and Cohen. Little worried I should have hung on to Lacy. Thoughts?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      I would want to try to hold onto Lacy just to see how things go, but honestly, I think you’re good. Lots of mouths to feed in Seattle, and I don’t see him seeing any kind of sustained success there unless that line improves.

    • jason batteiger says:

      @Allan:what kind of league were you able to get BOTH of those? gotta think a no waivers league and you were quicker with the trigger fingers. i’d think lacy is (from news reports too) closer to being cut than giving value.

  4. Stumanji! says:

    I spent some dough for Kerwynn even though I need a WR. Is Crowder a good trade return for KW or should I wait and see if he shines this week?
    Current squad:
    RB: Crowell, Hunt, Mccaffrey, Abdullah, Blount, Kerwynn
    WR: Jeffrey, Demaryius, Hurns, Kendall Wright

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      With your RBs, I would feel fine about swapping for Crowder.

  5. Jose says:

    Mike would you trade devontee freeman for amari cooper and tevin coleman?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      I always prefer a top tier WR over a top tier RB when possible, so yeah, Cooper and Coleman is a good return in my eyes.

  6. Grant says:

    My current RB are McCoy, Crowell, McFadden, West, and now K. Williams. I’m looking to try and get a trade for David Johnson in my league by giving one of these RB to him. He has Ty Montgomery, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Yeldon as his only other RB. Which would you think he would take as well as who you think would be best to go. I’m really debating between West and Crowell. Also should I ask for something in return besides DJ. Pretty confident I’ll get in the playoffs.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      Is this a keeper league? I would be careful about overpaying for DJ because there is at least a decent chance he doesn’t play again this year. If he starts to get healthy around Christmas and the Cardinals aren’t really in the playoff race, we won’t see him again this season. I would prefer to keep Crowell over West, if possible.

  7. OldMilwaukeePounders says:

    Mike –

    I lost DJ and Robinson in week 1. I’m bidding on both Kerwynn and Tarik Cohen. The plan is to drop Robinson for Kerwynn and I’m considering dropping one of Prosise, Jamaal Williams, or Brandon Coleman for Cohen.

    Who would you prefer to lose for Cohen?


  8. Chris says:

    Thanks Mike!

    Who would start this week, Jessie James or Ertz. KC shut down Gronk last week.


    • The Harrow says:

      @Chris: that was e.berry, go his what he’s up to this week. ertz.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      Agree with Harrow. Ertz is going to be a steady target for Wentz and the Eagles this year, and Berry is out.

  9. Sano Chance in Hell says:

    10 team PPR

    Missed on my main DJ replacement bids. Can drop Ginn for either Carson, Ellington, Mack, J White, or Cooper Kupp? Thoughts?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:

      @Sano Chance in Hell:

      J. White, Kupp, Mack.

      Honestly, I might give it this week and watch Ginn for another week, though.

  10. Lubey says:

    14 team league 0.5 ppr

    mccoy elliott cook anderson prosise williams
    hill brown davis lee wright

    Ive been looking to upgrade a wr. Is anderson or pryor a good enough deal?

    Thanks dude

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      For your team, yeah, I think that works for an upgrade. Hate giving up C.J. but Pryor is going to be their number one option in WAS.

      • Lubey says:

        @mikeMaher: Yea its actually grading out as a downgrade for me on the trade evaluator. I think its cause anderson is a bell cow back which are hard to come by in a 14 team league, but I love pryor, love the amount of targets he got week one. I think he will end up being a wr1 in that offense. Cousins just needs to be better which I think he can be

        • mikeMaher

          mikeMaher says:


          Yeah, Cousins had him a few times in Week 1 and missed him. Should only get better.

  11. Knucks says:

    Good luck with your Week 2 RCL matchups Mr. Maher!

    You’ll need it : )

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:



      • knucks says:

        @mikeMaher: You know about this guy stealing your name? He is from one of the best bands going right now, Snarky Puppy. Highly recommend throwing them on next time you sit down to brainstorm an article.

        • mikeMaher

          mikeMaher says:


          haha, yeah I have actually discovered them before. My name is actually surprisingly common. I met someone while working in Philly who had the same name, and there was someone in the Poconos who used to pick up prescriptions at the same CVS as me who had the same name. Luckily, I got the @mikeMaher Twitter handle before any of these guys could snag it.

Comments are closed.